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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 September 2018 (2+2 = ?)

2+2 = ? 

Mains Paper: 2 | International Relations 
Prelims level: Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement
Mains level: India must watch its side of the ledger while deepening defence ties with the U.S. 


  • India-U.S. defence relationship has been given a significant boost with the three agreements signed on Thursday after the inaugural 2+2 Dialogue in Delhi.
  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), “hotlines” between the Defence and Foreign Ministers of both countries, and the first tri-services military exercises between the two countries. 
  • This will increase, going forward, given the U.S. decision to include India in the top tier of countries entitled to Strategic Trade Authorisation (STA-1). 
  • Apart from the defence agreements, both sides said in a joint statement that they had discussed trade issues, cooperation on fighting terrorism, advancing “a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific region” and promoting sustainable “debt-financing” in the region.
  • The last two points are clearly aimed at Beijing’s role in the South China Sea and the Belt and Road Initiative projects, respectively.

About the COMCASA

  • COMCASA is the third of four “foundational”, or enabling, agreements signed by India after more than a decade of negotiations, and is perceived as an inevitable consequence of the large amount of U.S. defence hardware it has been purchasing.

Importance of the 2+2 dialogue,

  • The much-needed focus on the India-U.S. relationship after months of drift and occasional discord.
  • India did not receive a clear-cut assurance of its GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) status being restored, or of waivers on steel and aluminium tariffs imposed by Washington.
  • Instead, U.S. officials said clearly that they expect India to increase imports of American oil and gas as well as aircraft in order to wipe out the trade surplus India enjoys.
  • It is unclear whether the Centre has acquiesced to this blatantly anti-free market demand, but its silence on the matter is disturbing. 

From the perspective of  U.S.

  • The U.S. demand is to “zero out” oil imports from Iran by November, is simply unreasonable.
  • It would hurt India dearly not only because of costs at a time when the dollar is strengthening and fuel prices are going up, but also in terms of its substantial engagement with Iran. 
  • No public statement was made on what the U.S. will do on India’s investment in the Chabahar port once its full sanctions kick in on November 4.
  • American officials also gave no firm commitment in their statements that India will receive a waiver to purchase Russian hardware, beginning with the S-400 missile system. 
  • While signing agreements the U.S. has pursued for years, India appears to have taken a leap of faith on its own concerns, expecting that the Trump administration will come through on waiving sanctions and being more
  • flexible on trade issues. 
  • Delhi must work with Washington in the next few months to ensure that the benefits from the 2+2 dialogue don’t add up only on the other side.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) In 2018-July, India and USA declared intention to sign COMCASA agreement. What is its objective?
1.    an economic framework for cooperation in maritime commerce and trade.
2.    a defense framework for maritime security.
3.    a legal framework for the transfer of military communication equipment and technology.
4.    a legal framework for civil aviation.
Choose the correct statement(s) from the above 
A.    1 only 
B.    2 and 4 only 
C.    2 and 3 only 
D.    All of the above 
Answer : C  
In 2016, India had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with USA, which allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases.
Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will enable Indian military to obtain communication security equipment and technology from USA.

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) India must watch its side of the ledger while deepening defence ties with the U.S. Analyse the statement. 

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 08 September 2018(Post office solutions: the challenges facing India Post Payments Bank)

Post office solutions: the challenges facing India Post Payments Bank 

Mains Paper: 3 | Economic Development  
Prelims level: India Post Payments Bank
Mains level: The new India Post Payments Bank can hasten financial inclusion, but detailing is key. Critically Analyse.  


  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the India Post Payments Bank (IPPB), a financial service provider that will operate under the country’s age-old postal department.
  • The government-owned payments bank will be able to accept deposits of up to ₹1 lakh from customers but without the rights to use these funds to advance risky loans at higher interest rates.
  • It, however, plans to offer a variety of other financial services to people, including the holders of postal savings accounts that are worth over ₹85,000 crore. 

Objectives of IPPB? 

  • The primary rationale behind the public payments bank idea is to help in the government’s goal of achieving financial inclusion by providing savings, remittance, and payments services to the rural and unorganised sectors of the economy.
  • It is also hoped that the payments bank idea will help reinvigorate the postal system, which has a wide network of branches across India.
  • All the 155,000 post offices in the country are expected to be linked to the IPPB system as early as in December this year. 
  • The payments bank will also have a digital platform that is expected to make financial services more accessible even from remote locations.

Challenges faced by IIPB

  • A big challenge facing the new public payments bank is whether it can manage to earn the profits required to survive as a standalone business entity.
  • The severe restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India on how payments banks in general can employ their funds, the odds seem to be stacked against the IPPB at the moment.
  • The first wave of new payments banks that commenced business last year — Airtel, Paytm and Fino — have not exactly set the market on fire.
  • (The payments bank model, it should be noted, is still untested even though prominent private companies such as Airtel and Paytm have shown interest in the space.) 
  • Banks have traditionally stayed away from the business of pure deposit banking, unless customers have been willing to pay for these services, for a good reason. 
  • The IPPB promises to pay an interest rate of 4% to its savings account customers. 
  • To generate revenues, it plans to charge fees on money transfers and other financial services while investing idle customer deposits in safe government securities in order to earn interest. 
  • Whether this will be sufficient to cover interest and operational costs remains to be seen. Meanwhile, 

Way forward

  • The IPPB is also likely to face stiff competition from private companies, which are generally more nimble in adapting to business realities and far more customer-friendly compared to the government-owned behemoths. 
  • To increasing competition, the IPPB’s revenues and margins are also likely to come under pressure. 
  • Yet, if it succeeds, the new payments bank could usher in a new era of rapid financial inclusion across rural India.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1)  Which of the following restrictions has been placed on payments banks as compared to other commercial banks?
1. Payments banks cannot issue credit cards and cannot grant loan/ credit out of their own books of accounts.
2. The payments bank will be restricted to holding a maximum balance of Rs. 1,00,000 per  individual customer.
3. Under Cash reserve ratio Payments Bank will be required to invest minimum 75 per cent of its demand deposit balances in Government securities/treasury bills.
a)  1 and 3
b)  Only 2
c)  1 and 2
d)  All
Ans: D

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) India Post Payments Bank (IPPB) is a historic decision towards achieving the goal of financial inclusion. Discuss.

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(VIDEO) Historical Asiad (ऐतिहासिक एशियाड)- Lok Sabha TV Insight Discussion

(VIDEO) Historical Asiad (ऐतिहासिक एशियाड)- Lok Sabha TV Insight Discussion

Topic of Discussion: Historical Asiad (ऐतिहासिक एशियाड)- Lok Sabha TV Insight Discussion

(VIDEO) Section 377 Decriminalised : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

(VIDEO) Section 377 Decriminalised : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

Topic of Discussion: Section 377 Decriminalised : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

(VIDEO) Falling Rupee, Surging Markets : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

(VIDEO) Falling Rupee, Surging Markets : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

Topic of Discussion: Falling Rupee, Surging Markets : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 7 September 2018(Ending TB)

Ending TB 

Mains Paper: 2 | Health 
Prelims level: Tuberculosis (TB)
Mains level: Tuberculosis cannot be eliminated without universal access to affordable, quality diagnostics and drugs. 


  • On September 26, the UN General Assembly will, for the first time, address TB in a High-Level Meeting and likely release a Political Declaration, endorsed by all member nations, to galvanise investment and action to meet the global target of eliminating TB worldwide by 2035.
  • Elimination, which means reducing the number to one case per million people per year, will be impossible without universal, equitable access to affordable, quality TB diagnostics and treatment for anyone who needs it. 
  • It is much to the disappointment of global civil society, issues around access to diagnostics and drugs have been considerably diluted in the most recent draft of the Political Declaration.

Observation of the political declaration

  • A critical omission is that countries may avail of the various flexibilities under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights; 
  • The countries may invoke the Doha Declaration to compulsorily license drugs for use in public health emergencies. 
  • The option is to de-link the pricing of new TB drugs from the costs incurred in their research and development. 
  • The latest draft is a watered-down version of the original that actively committed to upholding access to affordable generics for all.

From India’s angle

  • India has fought to retain its status as a maker and distributor of generic medicines, thereby protecting the right to health of people in developing countries.
  • Indian patent law contains important provisions that help protect and promote public health goals.

Way forward  

  • TB is, by and large, easily diagnosable and curable. 
  • It is unacceptable that it nevertheless remains the leading causes of death from any single infectious agent worldwide.
  • Each day, thousands of people with TB die, often because of inequitable access to quality diagnosis and treatment.
  • The rapid emergence of drug-resistant forms of TB (DR-TB) in many countries brings a fresh set of needs including new and comprehensive diagnostic tests and second-line TB drugs, and health systems trained anew to

Manage DR-TB.

  • India not only accounts for a fifth of the world’s TB burden, it also has the largest number of people living with multidrug-resistant TB.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would eliminate TB by 2025, ahead of the global targets. 
  • But these targets cannot be achieved without access to affordable, quality diagnostics/ drugs. 

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Lifestyle diseases are associated with the way a person or group of people lives. Which of the following is/are example/s of such diseases?
1. Cirrhosis
2. Malaria
3. Swimmer’s ear
4. TB
Select the correct answer using the codes given below.
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 1 and 3 only
c) 2 and 3 only
d) 1 and 4 only
b) 1 and 3 only.

Explanation : Malaria and TB are not lifestyle disease. Swimmer’s ear is inflammation, irritation, or infection of the outer ear and ear canal. Buzzing or ringing ears, or difficulty in understanding speech patterns are its symptoms. Swimmer’s ears results due to loud music and constant use of headphones. Cirrhosis refers to a group of liver disorders. Heavy alcohol consumption can cause it.

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1)  How India can eradicate the tuberculosis?

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 7 September 2018(Is Punjab’s proposed blasphemy law retrograde?)

Is Punjab’s proposed blasphemy law retrograde?

Mains Paper: 2 | Constitution 
Prelims level: Blasphemy law
Mains level: Is Punjab’s proposed blasphemy law retrograde? Critically examine. 
Arguments in favour 


  • The Punjab Cabinet has decided to introduce in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) a new Section (295AA) which states, “Whoever causes injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwad Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.”
  • This extraordinary penalty is necessary when, throughout India, Section 295A of the IPC already provides for imprisonment up to three years for “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”.
  • Now, damage to holy books can attract a mandatory life sentence in Punjab, while other insults can attract up to three years. 
  • To put it bluntly, insulting a god or Prophet would land you in jail, but burning or defacing a holy book would land you in prison for life.

History of criminal blasphemy

  • The Punjab government has probably forgotten the misuse of similar blasphemy provisions in Pakistan, where similar amendments to Section 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code have ended in several tragedies. 
  • To criminalise blasphemy and sacrilege is to step on a slippery slope of justifying mob violence and private vengeance against the accused.
  • The history of criminal blasphemy creeping into Indian law needs to be retold. 
  • Mahashay Rajpal, the publisher of a book, Rangila Rasul (The Colourful Prophet), was sought to be prosecuted under Section 153A, as the book allegedly caused disharmony between communities. 
  • Rajpal was granted leave to appeal to the Lahore High Court because Section 153A then did not cover criticism of religious figures. 
  • The book did not specifically cause enmity or hatred between religious communities, it did not violate Section 153A was the logic that weighed with the court. 
  • Thereupon, the Indian Muslim community demanded a law against insult to religious feelings. 
  • The British government enacted Section 295(A) in 1927.
  • Rajpal was later acquitted by the Lahore High Court.
  • On April 6, 1929, he was stabbed to death by a 19-year-old carpenter, Ilam Din. 
  • The assassin was sentenced to death by the sessions court. 
  • His appeal to the Lahore High Court was conducted by M.A. Jinnah, who was persuaded to do so by the poet Iqbal. 
  • The appeal failed, and Ilam Din was hanged on October 31, 1929. 
  • Another poet who was supposedly sympathetic to Ilam Din was Deen Mohammed Taseer. 
  • Ironically, in 2011, his son Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, for speaking in support of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

Lesson from Pakistan

  • Blasphemy laws in the subcontinent derive justification from the argument that people will be outraged by attacks on their religion and resort to street violence if the offender is not legally punished.
  • The history tells us that such laws and prosecutions rarely avert violence. 
  • On the other hand, they are more likely to attract violence and provide the perpetrator a justification for inflicting violence against those who are unfortunate enough to be accused of blasphemy.
  • Indian Punjabi politicians would do well to reconsider their decision to follow their counterparts in Pakistani Punjab.

Arguments in against the above statement 

  • The anti-blasphemy law was scripted as a response to, and not an expression of, religious intolerance.
  • In 1947, a man who was devoutly religious became the Father of a secular, democratic nation. 
  • It was only natural for both countries, especially for India, to suffer the pangs of explosive inner paradoxes. 
  • The things are happening in Punjab is merely an extension of these paradoxes.

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In fear miscreants

  • Punjab is a land where secularism is not an ideology but inter-faith bonhomie. 
  • Punjab, a Sikh-majority area, has been the cradle of Hinduism. 
  • The Sikh faith is the only religion in the world which has its sanctum sanctorum founded by a saint (Sain Mian Mir) from a faith perceived as hostile, Islam.
  • And the holy scripture of the Sikhs contains Banis (verses) of holy men from all the dominant faiths prevalent then, including Hinduism and Islam.
  • It is intriguing that anti-sacrilege laws arose out of the crisis of a religion which is as tolerant and cosmopolitan as Sikhism. 
  • Punjab has never seen a communal riot even once since 1947. 
  • Those who interpret the anti-blasphemy law as intolerant are arguing from the wrong end of logic.
  • In no country is freedom of expression taken to mean outraging the freedom and sensitivities of others.
  • The lenient view which the State seemed to take of a collective hurt of a community was being taken unfair advantage of by miscreants. 
  • There definitely needed to be a firmer deterrent to put some fear of the law in the minds of those miscreants.
  • The Akalis have always advocated that the country needs to redefine blasphemy and patriotism and make secular tolerance an integral part of patriotic conduct.
  • But they are also aware that religious sensitivities, once provoked, can immediately lead to conflagration and get out of hand in the sensitive border State of Punjab. 
  • The legislation was meant to protect the tolerant against the intolerant.
  • The effective and expeditious application of the existing laws, there was a need to make the existing law more stringent to deal with cynical elements who play with religious sentiments to destabilise Punjab.
  • The Punjab initiative was not divorced from a broader vision in which the Akalis feel the need to make sacrilege and blasphemy socially and culturally unacceptable.
  • That is why you need the law to be more stringent and effective. 
  • As humanity and societies evolve, so do the laws.

Misusing the law

  • Those who argue against the law on the basis of its misuse and misapplication need to be reminded that every law is capable of being misused and misapplied. 
  • What is needed then is not doing away with laws but creating automatic, inbuilt guarantees against their misuse.
  • The Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab has introduced the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, is applicable to Punjab.

Defining sacrilege

  • The IPC already has a Section 295A, which says that “deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” will be punishable with imprisonment extending up to three years.
  • The Bills seek to insert a new Section 295AA that stipulates that whoever causes “injury, damage or sacrilege to Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Srimad Bhagwat Gita, Holy Quran and Holy Bible with the intention to hurt the religious feelings of the people” would be liable to be awarded life imprisonment, if convicted. 
  • The proposed Penal Code Bill seeks to replace the Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2016, passed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which specifically referred only to acts of sacrilege against the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Analysing the legal grounds 

  • The drafting of the Bill has received criticism for the imprecise manner in which sacrilege has been defined;
  • It should have been clearly mentioned as physical desecration/sacrilege. 
  • Otherwise, even for writing a book or an article, or making a speech, or sketching a cartoon, or drawing a painting, a person can be erroneously accused of blasphemy notwithstanding the rights guaranteed by Articles 19 and 25 of the Constitution.
  • In a larger context, the move should be interpreted as a party’s frantic attempt to move towards right-wing politics. 
  • Also, Punjab is setting a precedent for other State governments.
  • The 2016 Bill was a desperate move by a beleaguered SAD-led coalition government to somehow pacify the Sikh community, deeply traumatised by the dastardly incidents of desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib in Punjab in late 2015, which led to police firing on the protesters, resulting in deaths. 
  • The introduction of the amended Bill by the Congress has coincided with the government’s decision to compensate the victims of the firing and also table the report of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission.
  • It was constituted to probe into the incidents of sacrilege and the consequent police action.

Religion vs politics

  • The report predictably indicts the SAD-BJP government for its failure to handle the volatile situation, punish the erring officials, and arrest the perpetrators of the crime who are still at large. 
  • It implicates former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for allowing excessive police action. 
  • Mr. Badal also responded by reminding the Congress of Operation Blue Star and accusing it of unleashing new flames in the State when the flames “that turned the urban and country landscape of Punjab almost to ashes are still raging.” 
  • In Punjab, religion has played a more important role in determining the course of State politics, often with tragic consequences.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Consider the following statements about section 295A of the IPC:
A.    It penalizes any deliberate intention of insulting the religion or religious beliefs of any class of citizen
B.    Section 295A is a cognizable offence, which means that the police are authorised to arrest accused persons without the need of a judicially sanctioned warrant.
C.    This law was added only in 1927. Earlier India never had blasphemy law
D.    It is often argued that Section 295A is not a section for blasphemy but a section against Hate Speech
Choose the correct statement(s) from the above 
A.    1 only 
B.    2 and 4 only 
C.    2 and 3 only 
D.    All of the above 
Answer : D  

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Is Punjab’s proposed blasphemy law retrograde? Critically examine.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 7 September 2018(The right to love : on Section 377 verdict)

The right to love : on Section 377 verdict 

Mains Paper: 2 | Constitution 
Prelims level: Section 377
Mains level: The Supreme Court ruling on Section 377 furthers the frontiers of personal freedom 


  • The Supreme Court’s given landmark judgment decriminalising gay sex is that social morality cannot trump constitutional morality. 
  • They have observed it is a reaffirmation of the right to love.
  • In a 5-0 verdict, a Constitution Bench has corrected the flagrant judicial error committed by a two-member Bench in Suresh Kumar Koushal (2013), in overturning a reasoned judgment of the Delhi High Court reading down

Section 377 of the IPC.

  • In 2013 decision meant that the LGBTQ community’s belatedly recognised right to equal protection of the law was withdrawn on specious grounds.
  • The Parliament must act if it wanted to change the law against unnatural sex.
  • The courts considered Section 377 earlier, the litigation was initiated by voluntary organisations. 
  • When those affected by the 2013 verdict approached the Supreme Court, it was referred to a larger Bench to reconsider Koushal.

The historical development 

  • Two landmark judgments took forward the law on sexual orientation and privacy and formed the jurisprudential basis for the latest judgment.
  • In National Legal Services Authority (2014), a case concerning the rights of transgender people, the court ruled that there could be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. 
  • In the ‘privacy case’, a nine-judge Bench ruled that sexual orientation is a facet of privacy, and constitutionally protected.
  • Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra’s opinion lays emphasis on transformative constitutionalism, that is, treating the Constitution as a dynamic document that progressively realises various rights. 
  • In particular, he invokes the doctrine of non-retrogression, which means that once a right is recognised, it cannot be reversed. 
  • Taken together, the four opinions have furthered the frontiers of personal freedom and liberated the idea of individual rights from the pressure of public opinion.

Way forward 

  • Justice R.H. Nariman said, Constitutional morality trumps any imposition of a particular view of social morality.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud underscores the “unbridgeable divide” between the moral values on which Section 377 is based and the values of the Constitution.
  • Justice Indu Malhotra strikes a poignant note when she says history owes an apology to the LGBTQ community for the delay in providing the redress. 
  • The dilution of Section 377 marks a welcome departure from centuries of heteronormative thinking. 
  • This is a verdict that will, to borrow a phrase from Justice Chandrachud, help sexual minorities ‘confront the closet’ and realise their rights.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1)  Section 377 of Indian penal code is related to
a. Cyber attacks
b. Heinous crimes
c. Criminalization of homosexuals
d. Sexual offences against children
Answers:  C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) What is Sec 377? What it needs to remove in current scenario  ?

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Current Affairs Roundup 2019


(Book) :Current Affairs Roundup 2019



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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Disha Publication
  • Genre: Entrance Exam
  • ISBN: 9789388240093, 938824009X
  • Edition: 2, 2018
  • Pages: 276


  • The Current Affairs Roundup 2019, 2nd Edition is empowered with 2 eBooks - Weekly Current Affairs Update 2018 and MCQs. 
  • The book has been designed to capture the day-to-day happenings in and around the world. 
  • The new edition has been enriched with updates on 3 important sectors of our economy which are very useful for different Competitive Exams - Agriculture Snapshot 2018, Banking Snapshot 2018 and Railways Snapshot 2018.
  • The book has been divided into 4 parts - Events, Issues, Ideas and People. 
  • Further each of the 4 parts is divided month-wise, i.e. Jan to June 2017.
  • It is essential for aspirants to keep themselves updated as just knowing things can get them more marks in such exams. 
  • Moreover Current Affairs prove to be very important tool to handle GD and PI.
  • It comes in handy for the aspirants of UPSC, SSC, Banking, Insurance, Railways, Engg. Services and AFCAT etc.

(VIDEO) GDP Drivers : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

(VIDEO) GDP Drivers : Rajya Sabha TV Big Picture Debate

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 6 September 2018(All for one, one for all?: on integrated military theatre commands)

All for one, one for all?: on integrated military theatre commands 

Mains Paper: 3 | Security Organisations and their mandate 
Prelims level: Security Organisations
Mains level: Each service of the military extolling its own importance is not helping India to study the changing character of war. Analyse the above state. 


  • There has been much discussion in the media recently on the integrated military theatre commands. 
  • Most of the opposition to such a restructuring has been led by Air Force officers, including former Chief of Air Staff S. Krishnaswamy, who have voiced the view that the creation of integrated commands.
  • It would seriously hamper the effective application of air power, particularly because of the limited resources available with the Air Force.

On the way to reform

  • The views of respected Air Force officers, particularly a former chief, need to be taken seriously. 
  • There is justification in the argument that moving ahead towards integrated commands without any meaningful restructuring in the higher defence organisation is premature.
  • The initial steps should have been an integration of the Ministry of Defence and the appointment of a Chief of the Defence Staff.
  • This would have put in place structures and practices that would encourage a jointness among the three services and perhaps pave the way in future towards integrated organisations.

What are the roadmap to military reform

  • The Army and the Navy challenge this assertion with their opinions on the importance of land and sea power. 
  • The real problem lies in the fact that all three services have their own vision of how future conflicts could unfold and the primacy of their own arm in winning wars. 
  • Therefore a common understanding between the services on the nature and character of wars that India could fight in the future.
  • The enduring elements of the nature of war are its violent character, a clash of wills between two opponents, and political primacy.
  • There is no war without these elements. 
  • The character of war, on the other hand, is related to how a war will be fought.
  • This depends on our military capabilities, economy, technology, political considerations, civil-military relations, and the opponent’s aim and strategy.

Lesson  from past attacks

1.    Kargil Conflict 

  • The Kargil conflict broke out in 1999. 
  • The Pakistan Army had clearly committed an act of war by occupying territory on the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC). 
  • While the complete military was poised to strike Pakistan by land, sea and air. 
  • The political leadership decided to restrict the conflict to only the Kargil sector and to our own side of the LoC. 
  • Only a small fraction of the Indian Amy was applied while the Air Force was restricted to bombing posts that had been occupied by Pakistan Army soldiers. 
  • Despite this, Kargil was a resounding political, diplomatic and military victory.

2.    The Indian Parliament Attack 

  • The next crisis emerged from the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001. 
  • Operation Parakram was launched and the Indian Army mobilised for an impending war against Pakistan. 
  • The Army remained deployed along the borders for almost one year. 
  • Even the Kaluchak attack in Jammu and Kashmir in May 2002, in which 34, including soldiers, women and children, were killed, did not trigger an all-out conflict. 
  • This attempted show of force had actually proved counterproductive.

3.    Mumbai Attack 

  • The Mumbai attack in November 2008 was the biggest terror strike launched from Pakistan.
  • There was outrage in the country and calls for retaliation against Pakistan. 
  • As the former National Security Adviser, Shivshankar Menon, explains in his book, Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy, The simple answer to why India did not immediately attack Pakistan is that after examining the options at the highest levels of government.
  • The decision-makers concluded that more was to be gained from not attacking Pakistan than from attacking it.

Way forward

  • There is the need to synergise political and military objectives
  • In another major lesson from these examples is that the importance of a military force lies in its utility to achieve the national aims, and not in the numbers of divisions, ships and aircraft squadrons.
  • The dominance of America’s military power has not resulted in the achievement of its political objectives in Afghanistan.

Questions about imagining the future

  • We must also debate the character of future wars. 
  • What will be the contours of a war between nuclear armed adversaries, and how will victory be defined if we want to remain below the nuclear threshold? 
  • As our offensive columns enter the Punjab province of Pakistan, what is the sort of conflict that they will face? 
  • Will it merely be a pitting of two armies against each other or a hybrid conflict also involving the local population, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, and criminal elements?
  • How will China achieve its political objectives through armed conflict?
  • Will it be by a massive application of force across the Himalayan watershed or by exploiting its advantages in information warfare, technology and ballistic missile capability? 
  • What will be the psychological impact of long-range missiles slamming into population centres and killing people who would never have imagined themselves to be a part of the conflict? 
  • Will this be the real clash of wills rather than actions along the border?


  • It is necessary for the three services to sit together and find realistic answers. 
  • We must be prepared for a whole range of options from non-contact warfare to a full-scale war.
  • Our ability to generate 11,000 sorties in an exercise or launch three strike corps into Pakistan are visible displays of our combat potential but may not translate into the best utilisation of force for all contingencies.
  • It is only after these discussions crystallise that we will be able to arrive at a common understanding of how future wars could possibly play out and the kind of joint structures that are required to best fight this conflict. 
  • We may not get everything right but each service extolling its own importance is not helping our ability to prepare for the future.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) The headquarters of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) are located in which city? 
Answer A. Madrid

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Each service of the military extolling its own importance is not helping India to study the changing character of war. Analyse the above statement.


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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 6 September 2018(The gap in disaster management funding)

The gap in disaster management funding

Mains Paper: 3 | Disaster Management 
Prelims level: Kerala Floods, Disaster Management Act
Mains level: Power tussle between centre and states affecting the funding of disaster management. Critically examine.  


  • The Centre and the Kerala government on the offer and acceptance of foreign aid following the floods has drawn attention away from the core question at stake one of fiscal federalism. 
  • The goods and services tax (GST) has increased the centralization of fiscal powers, limiting the autonomy of states to raise their own revenue for public expenditure.
  • The interplay of the fledgling GST regime with the role and responsibilities of the Centre and states under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
  • It has led to an uncharted situation. 

What are the constitutional contexts 

  • Public health, roads, bridges and ferries, inland waterways, agriculture and land are state subjects, under List II of the Constitution.
  • The Kerala government has sought to impose a cess of 10% to finance the rebuilding of the state following the devastation caused by floods. 
  • In terms of Article 279A of the Constitution, the GST Council is the forum for approving any new state tax on account of a natural calamity or disaster. 
  • Given that the taxation powers (and consequently, budgets) of states are significantly constrained on account of GST.

Problems faced by  DMA

  • This problem is compounded by the lack of fund outlay under the DMA. 
  • While the DMA, which predates the GST Act, expands the role of the Centre in disaster management, this has not resulted in adequate budgetary apportionment for states. 
  • The prime minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), and secretaries of the concerned central government ministries and departments are members of the National

Executive Committee (NEC).

  • Similar arrangements are made at the state and district levels. 
  • The NEC is responsible for formulating the national plan, which the central government is to finance by making “adequate provisions”. 

Analysing the current data 

  • Despite the statutory role of the Centre under the DMA, it places primary responsibility for disaster management on the states. 
  • According to a PRS legislative research analysis of the demand for grants by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) in 2017-18.
  • It’s  roughly 80% of the MHA’s budget expenditure went to the police, while only 6% was spent on disaster management, rehabilitation of refugees and migrants, census and Cabinet expenses, put together.
  • The SDRF is the primary means available to the states of financing disaster relief and response. 
  • The Centre contributes 75% of the SDRF for general category states and 90% to special category states. 
  • Thus, its total budgeted expenditure for the entire country for 2018-19 was ₹12,500 crore. Compare this to Assocham’s estimates of the loss suffered by Kerala alone, at ₹15,000-20,000 crore. 

Way forward 

  • As per the operational guidelines for the NDRF, the fund is intended only to provide immediate relief to disaster victims. 
  • Neither the NDRF nor the SDRF can be used for restoration or reconstruction in the aftermath of a disaster. 
  • These expenses are to be met from normal budgetary heads or plan funds.
  • In 2016, the Centre decided not to establish a mitigation fund, finding that these expenses could be met through its other schemes. 
  • The GST Council has now been asked to determine whether Kerala can raise revenues through a disaster cess.
  • If the council finds that such a cess will destroy the uniformity of tax rates across the country, the Centre must step in with additional disaster relief to prevent excessive borrowing by the state and the makings of another disaster. 

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Which of the following statements is/are correct about National disaster response force?

1. The parent agency of National Disaster Management Authority is Ministry of Home Affairs.
2. The Chairman of the NDMA is Home Minister.
a. Only 1
b. Only 2
c. Both
d. None

ANSWER: Only 1 

- The Chairman of the NDMA is the Prime Minister.
- During ‘calamities of severe nature’, the Central Government is responsible for providing aid and assistance to the affected state.
- The aid include deployment of Armed Forces, Central Paramilitary Forces, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) at the State’s request.

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Power tussle between centre and states affecting the funding of disaster management. Critically examine. 

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 6 September 2018(CAATSA, a sticking point)

CAATSA, a sticking point

Mains Paper: 2 | International Relations 
Prelims level: CAATSA
Mains level: How CAATSA is important for U.S. India relations? 


  • The much-delayed inaugural ‘2+2’ dialogue between India and the U.S. held on September 6. 
  • These range from the likely signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, which is meant to provide a legal framework for the transfer of communication security equipment from the U.S. to India.
  • The possible announcement of several high-end defence deals worth billions of dollars. 
  • And yet, some statements from Washington over the last week have come as a reality check. 
  • They open the possibility of the 2+2 dialogue becoming just another high-optics engagement, one that fails to address the structural issues that could adversely affect the deepening strategic partnership between India and the U.S.

Importance of CAATSA

  • The potential is to derail the relationship from Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). 
  • India had made it clear that it would go ahead with the S-400 Triumf missile system deal with Russia even as U.S. sanctions loom large.
  • U.S. officials expressed concern over the S-400 sale, they had assured India that a way would be found by the Trump administration to shield friends and allies from sanctions. 
  • The U.S.’s change in tone and expectations directly impinge on India’s core national interests and interfere in its policymaking.
  • Then there are practical considerations, the Indian military is heavily reliant on Russian equipment in many areas. 
  • Given the specific requirements of the military, the services will continue to choose Russian equipment, although they are also now diversifying their inventory.
  • For India’s choice
  • U.S. officials and experts have suggested that India should procure alternatives from the U.S. Speaking at the NATO summit in July.
  • India has its own due diligence to follow regarding what suits it best and what it needs the most. 
  • The best product may not always be what is needed. 
  • The product that gives the best value for money and performs well under Indian conditions is what is procured. 
  • While the U.S. may expect India to do more for the support rendered by it at various levels, India’s defence cooperation doesn’t fall in that ambit.

Way forward 

  • The India-U.S. relationship has moved past the stage of the usual rhetoric of extolling “large democracies”. 
  • India is a rising power looking for a greater say on the global stage, the U.S. should be sensitive to its core interests.
  • The U.S.  is to find a way out on CAATSA if it is really serious about taking forward the strategic partnership.
  • It is an opportunity for India and the U.S. to address the issue now and prevent it from escalating further.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Which of the following is true about "CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act)", recently in news ?
1.    The act is passed by USA for countries having significant defence relations with North Korea.
2.    It would be tough for India to carry on defence deals with USA if the act is not diluted on case to case basis.
3.    Both 1 and 2
4.    Neither 1 nor 2                     
Answer: Option 2 

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) How CAATSA is important for U.S. India relations?


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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 6 September 2018(Steps to stop the rot: on dangers of storing food grains in the open) 

Steps to stop the rot: on dangers of storing foodgrains in the open  

Mains Paper: 3 | Agriculture 
Prelims level: Mouldy grain
Mains level: Explain the important of storing food grains with proper mechanism. 


•    In India, the height of the rainy season is a time that one prays will pass because of flooded roads, wet clothes, masses of insects and mould.
•    No place is safe from the growth of fungi that spring up overnight. 
•    With the humidity in the air and the warmth of summer, all that fungi need is something to feed on.
•    To prevent fungal attack. 
•    We need to store food items at home in airtight containers with well-fitting lids or in sealed plastic bags.

comparison between and other countries 

•    In other parts of the world, grain is stored in silos. 
•    The stored grain is kept dry and aired so as to prevent fungal and insect attacks. 
•    Today, the U.S. has a permanent storage capacity nearly equivalent to its annual grain production. 
•    But in India, the government has considered only four silos to be sufficient for the nation’s needs.
•    In Uttar Pradesh, is the most modern with a storage capacity of 500 tonnes.

Invitation to illness

•    According to WHO report eating mouldy grain causes a variety of illnesses. 
•    The paper says: Aflatoxicosis causes abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis and (sometimes) death after acute exposure to high concentrations in food. 
•    Chronic low dose exposure to aflatoxin can result in impaired growth in children.
•    For these reason traditional wisdom ensured that mouldy food was discarded. 
•    Today, our grain, especially wheat and paddy, is stored outdoors under tarpaulins through the rainy season. 
•    After this, grain is converted to flour or flour-based products or de-husked, which we store in airtight containers and bins to prevent mould. 
•    However, this is shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. 
•    The mycotoxins which we seek to prevent by keeping food dry are already present from the time the flour was stored in the form of grain.

Steps need to be taken by governments 

•    The government is aware of the deadly consequences of grain with mycotoxins.
•    Although there are regulations in place to prevent the purchase of mouldy grain from farmers. 
•    There do not seem to be any published studies on the extent of mould infection in grain stored using the CAP method.
•    However, one does not need these studies. 
•    All one has to do is purchase flour from the market, make rotis, bread or biscuits and compare the taste with similar products from developed countries.
•    The “nutty taste” of wheat is missing in what is available in the Indian market.
•    If you get wheat from farmers and get it ground, you will find the “nutty taste”.

Way forward

•    When there is an abundance of steel, cement and other building materials, money and the technological know-how? 
•    Why is the government not moving on a war footing to store food grains in the proper manner?
•    How is it acceptable that our foodgrains, which the public pays to procure, are stored in the open under tarpaulins?
•    How can we gloat about a growing economy when 30 million tonnes of foodgrain is stored outside under tarpaulins? 
•    Why is there no effort being made to ensure that grain being procured annually is stored properly? 
•    Are our planners unaware of what is going on even in their own kitchens?

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Consider the following statement about mouldy Grain. 
1.    Eating mouldy grain causes a variety of illnesses
2.    According to a World Health Organisation paper, mycotoxins, which are found in mouldy grain/foods, are associated with human disease and produce aflatoxins (cancer-causing), trichothecenes, ochratoxins, citrinin and other toxins
3.    Aflatoxicosis causes abdominal pain, vomiting, hepatitis and (sometimes) death after acute exposure to high concentrations in food
4.    Chronic low dose exposure to aflatoxin can result in impaired growth in children
Choose the correct statement(s) from the above 
A.    1 only 
B.    2 and 4 only 
C.    2 and 3 only 
D.    All of the above 

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Explain the important of storing food grains with proper mechanism. 

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 5 September 2018 (Addressing soil loss)

Addressing soil loss 

Mains Paper: 3 | Environment 
Prelims level: Weathered soil
Mains level: Explain the impact of soil loss on environment. 


  •  Rains abate in Kerala and parts of Kodagu district in Karnataka, the loss of lives and the devastation of infrastructure and crops is apparent.
  •  However, as rebuilding is planned, what is often ignored is the soil that has been washed away. 
  •  While roads and houses will be rebuilt, and crop losses compensated partially through insurance, the gradual loss of soil productivity can have a lasting impact on the local economy.

Impacts of soil degradation 

  •  Soil degradation due to flooding is a serious concern.
  •  A 2014 review of soil degradation in India by multiple institutions shows that an estimated 14 million hectares suffer soil degradation due to flooding annually.
  •  Researchers from the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning (NBSS&LUP) and other institutes estimate that 13 flood hit districts lost 287 million tonnes of top soil and soil nutrients across 10.75 million hectares of farmland. 
  •  The replacement of nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates and iron would have cost ₹1,625 crore, while another ₹853 crore would have been spent on replenishing organic material lost.


  •   To recover and replace would take a “considerable” amount of time, and a steadfast programme of recovery. 
  •  There is no comprehensive scheme for recovery, and the effect of the floods is still visible on the ground. 
  •  A soil profile of a few affected districts, done under the State’s integrated watershed scheme. 
  •  It shows large swathes of these areas having “shallow or very shallow” soil depth, organic carbon deficiency, and low productivity of land.


  •  Not all floods are bad for the soil, as seen in the oft occurring floods along the banks of the Ganga, Kosi, Brahmaputra and other rivers taking birth in the Himalayas.
  •  There, the gushing river emanating from the mountains carries with it loosened alluvial soil, and not only washes over farmlands, but also replenishes flood plains with fertile soil. 
  •  However, in south and central India, floods wash away rich, weathered soil, which are deposited in reservoirs or as sand bars along the river bed or in the sea.
  •  Any rehabilitation programme must consider this lost soil.

UPSC Prelims Questions: 

Q.1) Deforestation may reduce the chances of:
A.    Rain fall 
B.    Frequent cyclones 
C.    Erosion of surface soil 
D.    Frequent landslides
Answer: Option A                  

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Explain the impact of soil loss on environment.

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THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 5 September 2018 (Mission Vidya:teachers-as-missionaries)

Mission Vidya: teachers as missionaries

Mains Paper: 2|Education
Prelims level: Mission Vidya
Mains level: Need to train the teachers to improve the education system of India.


  • Research shows that lower primary levels, especially Class IV and below, are critical in laying a foundation for learning and ensuring a liking for school.
  • The recently concluded ‘Mission Vidya’ in Gujarat once again draws attention to the intractable problem of low learning levels among government school children.
  • The month long remedial teaching programme targeted more than 200,000 Class VI VIII children with poor achievements in reading, writing and mathematics.

Concerns for governments.

  • The government is evaluating the programme and one hopes, at least for the children’s sake, that the results are positive.
  • First, why does the need for such a heroic measure arise when we have well established schools? The most popular answer is student absenteeism.
  • The children belong to socio economically disadvantaged groups and are under many compulsions that make them miss school regularly.
  • A mission can address the resulting learning deficit.
  • But surely short missions cannot overcome the alienation from school that underpins such irregularity.
  • Schools should understand how their own practices and environment contribute to this alienation, which unfortunately begins much earlier in the student life cycle.

So, is the Class VI VIII stage too late?

  • Research has shown that lower primary levels, especially Class IV and below, are critical in laying a foundation for learning and ensuring a liking for school.
  • It is by this stage that children should be transitioning from “learning to read and write” to “reading and writing to learn”—but our biggest failure is here.
  • So, while attending to struggling Class VI VIII children is morally defensible, the focus should be on the earlier stages.

Changing the current approach of teaching?

  • Research has shown that remedial teaching needs a lot of customization.
  • It is, to use an unfortunate analogy, giving the right medicine for the correctly identified disease.
  • For this, a strong IT based plan is needed. Our experience in dealing online with thousands of teachers shows that this can be done with a little effort.
  • It is possible to build a system that provides diagnostic data, advises on the strategies to overcome the learning problems identified, and supports regular assessment.
  • This is equally important, the field level control of mentoring and monitoring such programmes.
  • It has to pass to those teachers who have performed in the system, and not to high level bureaucrats.
  • The first line of support for the teachers of the lower primary stage in a block or district has to comprise teachers who are respected in that area for their performance.
  • There are cluster resource centre coordinators who cover a cluster of schools, but they are identified with the regular administrative hierarchy.

Way forward

  • Governments must believe that there are good and motivated teachers, perhaps a minority, in their own ranks.
  • They must be ready to empower such teachers and trust them to deliver.
  • Flattening hierarchies and decentralizing authority will be resisted, but today we have no option. Is it difficult to find such teachers?
  • The spearhead teams should have about 25 to 30 members in a district or a set of blocks.
  • Finding this small number should not be a problem.
  • Our work with innovative teachers shows that today it is easier to organize such a team since we have a better sense of who the performers are.
  • These teams must be allowed to mentor and monitor the teachers of whom they are in charge with the help of the diagnostic and assessment data, and to develop locally contextualized teaching and assessment strategies.
  • The government schools are increasingly catering to the socio economically marginalized sections of our society and that improving learning levels is a matter of social justice and inclusion,
  • The better it will be for our society.

UPSC Prelims Questions:

Q.1).The policy recommended by the Kothari Commission vis à vis language is
(A) Three language formula
(B) Two language formula
(C) Hindi
(D) Mother Tongue

Answer: A

UPSC Mains Questions:
Q.1) Why it is important to improve the RTE policy taken by government a decade ago?

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